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Re: Snes9x and Quake in main

Joey Hess wrote:
> Ben Collins wrote:
> > Come on, people can write their own .pak's for quake, and quite a few
> > people can write byte code for snes9x programs.
> So why aren't there packages of these things in main?

It occured to me after I woke up that I left something out. If you want
to understand policy, you really need to look at what we were thinking
when we wrote it. 

Contrib has historically been a dumping ground for software that wasn't
good enough for main. That software might have been very buggy[1], or it
might require software that was not on your debian media (because the software
was in non-free) to be of any use. Or it might require software that is not
available at all unless you rip it directly from the ROM of a game (or
download it from a shady ftp site). Or it might just require software you
have to get up onto the net and go download. Any of these reasons mean
that the software in contrib is annoying to deal with and get working, for
one reason or another. 

So it was useful to seperate that software out, not for reasons of purity of 
licenses -- that was not such a big issue in the pree-DFSG-days when contrib
was introduced -- but so users could choose not to see it. A better 
definition of the historical use of contrib might be: "software that is
not usable without additional work on the part of the user"

If you apply this definition to Ben's example of a new programming
language compiler, the new programming language's compiler is clearly
useful right out of the box, if you know or are learning the language. 
It exists to compile code; code for it to compile need not be available
if you can write some. (Just as a free unix system is usable out of the
box if you know or are learning unix...)

Aaron's attempt at reductio ad absurdum falls on its face because,
whether the BIOS of a computer is software or not, whether it matters if
it is free or not[2], if you are using Debian you have one and you not have
to do any work to go get one.

I think this is a very pragmatic way to to look at contrib. It's
probably pretty much what the original meaning of contrib was (I'd
appreciate it if an oldertimer could speak up).

see shy jo

[1] This was one valid reason to put stuff in contrib until 1999.
[2] I'm not interested in debating either question right now.

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